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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5289 Tail AI-154
IJN
Akagi

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USAAF December 7, 1941
Pilot ┬áPO1c Takeshi Hirano (KIA, BR)
Crashed  December 7, 1941

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi. At the factory, painted overall gray. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 Carrier Fighter / A6M2 Model 21 Zero. Assigned to the Akagi air group. Tail code AI-154.

Mission History
On December 7, 1941 took off from Akagi piloted by PO1c Takeshi Hirano as one of nine Zeros led by Lt. Commander Shigeru Itaya on a mission to escort D3A1 Val dive bombers as part of the first wave of carrier aircraft attacking Pearl Harbor on Oahu. Finding no aerial opposition over, the Zeros, broke off and flew over southern Honolulu to strafe John Rodgers Field (Honolulu Airport) where they set a parked Hawaiian Airlines DC-3 on fire.

Next, the Zeros spotted what they reported as "large transports" that were in fact B-17 Flying Fortresses near Hickam Field and attacked. Both Hirano and Iwama attacked the B-17C 40-2074 piloted by Lt. Raymond Swenson from the rear, but overshot it. Iwama's fire hit the bomber, causing it to catch fire and soon afterwards landed at Hickam Field and after touching down broke into two pieces from the damage.

Afterwards, the Zeros flew over Fort Kamehameha on their way to strafe Hickam Field. Fully alerted, anti-aircraft gunners around the airfield and aboard USS Helm (DD-388) hit this Zero with gunfire. Damaged, this Zero attempted to crash land on a street, but was clipped by palm tress and instead crash into Building 52 (Ordinance Machine Shop) at Fort Kamehameha, killing pilot Hirano on impact. When this Zero crashed, four men were killed on the ground that were taking cover behind the building: Cpl Claude L. Bryant, Pvt Eugene Bubb, Pvt Donat George Duquette, Jr. and Pfc Oreste DeTorre.

Recovery of Remains
The remains of the pilot were transported to the morgue at Fort Shafter. On December 9, 1941 the remains were buried as "unknown Japanese aviator" at Schofield Barracks Cemetery.

Wreckage
After the crash, American personnel took souvenirs from the crashed Zero, including the pilot's pistol, dataplates and pieces of the aircraft. Inside, a map was found and relayed to intelligence and used in an attempt to locate the Japanese carrier force.

Afterwards, the wreckage was transported to Hickam Field for technical evaluation. The initial American report on the Zero incorrectly believed the aircraft was a copy of American designs but did reveal the fighter lacked any armor plate or self sealing fuel tanks.

Later, the wreckage was shipped to Wright Field for further study. On April 6, 1942 on "Army Day" this Zero was paraded in Dayton, Ohio. Afterwards, labratory testing was preformed on the aluminium. Afterwards, the fate of this Zero is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.

References
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Pearl Harbor Zero & Other Photos by Don Marsh and Jim Lansdale
Aviation History January 2009 "Harano's Zero" by David Aiken

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020

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